In this case, I think the bottom line is time…and our lack of it.
Recently there have been 4 posts from 4 different bloggers (and, honestly, I think there may have been more that I lost track of…if you wrote one, let me know) about responding to blog comments.
Here’s the round-up:
L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick:
Do you respond to comments? In your post or by emailing? Or by visiting that person's blog? I used to be bad about responding. I'd read them! But not until recently did I start responding in my own post. (Thanks, Jemi!) I know emailing replies is very popular right now, but I get over 300 emails a day as it is - and very few are spam!!! And I confess - if you comment here without ever following me, there's a chance I will never see your blog, as I often forget to follow commenters back to their blog.
Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries:
I can't say I have a set protocol for this. Some days I respond to each comment in turn. Name- response. Some days I respond in bulk. Your comments followed by my comment. Some days I don't get to respond until the following day--so 15 comments may pile up and I don't get back to them until the next day. I do have the blog set up so any post older than seven days goes through moderation, whereby I am forced to respond and see the comment.
Marvin Wilson at The Old Silly:
Now here’s the question: how many of you come back to a blog later in the day to see if the blog’s author replied to your comment? Me, I sometimes do. Not always, not if I didn’t ask a question that begged an answer, and probably not if my comment was not adding something of significance to the post’s content or the discussion going on. But if any of the above are true, then yes … oftentimes I will go back to see what if any reply there was from the blog or guest author, or see if anyone else commented in regard to what I had said or asked.
Simon C. Larter at Constant Revision:
Now, one of the joys of blogging is (virtually) meeting all kinds of fun and interesting people, and having little conversations with them in your comment section and theirs. But, as you might understand, these conversations take time and attention….So. I’ve decided to take a page from the books of folk like Lisa and Laura, and Shannon Messenger, and to respond comments via e-mail whenever I get the chance.
As you can imagine, the comments on these particular posts are also very interesting. I know this because I checked back several times to see what other people were saying. :)
And, really, that’s why I try to respond to each comment—to maintain a dialogue for those who do want to come back.
In general, though, I don’t believe most people have time to check back with comments on other people’s blogs. I know I usually don’t.
But I do make a point of checking back in on another writer’s blog post when A) The blog author has asked their commenters a question and I’m interested in reading what everyone has to say and B) When I’ve asked a question of the blog host and I want to check back and see their answer.
Something else I’ve noticed on my blog is that I have a lot of lurkers (and I’m not calling y’all out! I’m delighted to have you lurk…doesn’t bother me a whit) who also read the comments section. And they’ll even check back with the comments section. They’re interested in reading what my regular readers have to say.
So part of the reason I respond back to my comments is those comment lurkers. I’m hoping (and they seem to be) they're getting something out of the comments section as well as the blog post.
Is there ever a point where you just can’t respond to each comment? I think so. There are some huge blogs—Nathan Bransford’s blog and Copyblogger come to mind—where you’d spend the better part of an hour or more if you tried to respond to the number of comments the blogs generate. The amount of available time that a blogger has to respond to comments also varies. Some may hit their limit at 10 comments…others might be able to respond to 30. But do we really have time to respond if we got 50? 60?
My plan is to continuing responding to comments as long as I can on my blog. Some days my response might be slower than others...and sometimes it might even be the next day that I get back to comments that came later in the day.
What if you’re really low on time? What if it’s a choice between cutting back on blogging or cutting back on responding to your commenters?
No question---cut back on responses. But I’d still respond to any commenter with a question—and, if you’re looking for post ideas, why not consider responding to their question with a full post?